Australian dairy processor Murray Goulburn has declined to comment on reports it is preparing to close up to four of its processing plants, but has confirmed that a “review of its assets and distribution network” is under way.

Speculation about possible site closures mounted last month, after the embattled group reported a loss of AUD32m (US$24.5m) for the first six months of its financial year as a result of lower sales.

A spokesperson for the Devondale milk owner told just-food today (1 March): “We are conducting a business review of MG’s assets and distribution network, which if progressed may deliver further efficiencies and value into the milk pool in the future.”

“The review is focussed on aligning our organisational capacity and capabilities with future milk intake and we will continue to provide updates on review outcomes as appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

Murray Goulburn CEO Ari Mervis said in February record rainfalls and a high level of competitor activity had reduced the group’s milk intake, “impacting our revenue and our ability to fully recover fixed costs and overheads”. “In addition, although the recent increases in the global prices of dairy commodities are welcome, they have not recovered in time to impact on MG’s first-half sales volume,” Mervis added.

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